Soloing Basics. Part 2 - Scales

Let's delve into this enigma of soloing a little more and find out how to do it. If you have a chord change under your one tone (eighth notes or whatever) now you have developed an implied note change even though you are still playing the same note. Let's see why.

Ultimate Guitar
For those who missed part 1 we discussed soloing in major and minor keys and used a Dm-C-Bb-C progression as a starting point. Let's delve into this enigma of soloing a little more and find out how to do it... shall we? The easiest solo: The easiest solo is one note... that's it. Now, a one note solo may state a particular emotion that fits the tune, but it does not state an awful lot. I suppose the second easiest solo would be two notes, followed by more notes. By the way the solo to "I wanna be sedated" by the Ramones is just eighth notes of one tone... and hey, it works. But if you have a chord change under your one tone (eighth notes or whatever) now you have developed an implied note change even though you are still playing the same note. Let's see why. In the Ramones tune the chord changes are E-A-B in quarter note strums, each chord being one measure (real fast tempo though). The solo is eighth note open high E's. When the solo starts it is playing the tonic (E) which gives a particular consonant sound when played with the chord E. When the chord changes to the A, the solo is now playing the 5th of the chord (still an E) which is another harmonious, albeit different tonal relationship from the first note. Now the chord changes to B and the solo is playing the 4th of the chord (still E), another consonant tone. The note E is not in the B major chord (B-D-F#), but the perfect 4th is still effective. So what we have found is that your solo is a relationship between the solo notes you are playing and the chords that the rest of the band is playing. Hmmm... now you really don't want to be playing just a bunch of licks. What about speed players? They can't sit around and wait for the rest of the band to catch up with their solo notes, so they must analyze specific notes or groups of notes in relation to the underlying chords. One way is to think about only the first and last note of a scalar passage, however long it is. Assuming we're playing in the proper key the notes will be alright, but if we're playing pretty fast the listener can't really discern them anyway, but they will the last note. This note is where you were going with that scalar run; your destination. How you got there (fast or slow) is not important, this is the statement you wanted to make. This brings us to: Resolutions. When listening to a piece of music, the ear always wants to return to a stable place. This place is either the tonic (root) of the piece, or the tonic of the underlying chord. This "return" is called its resolution. A flurry of notes that don't adequately resolve, while technically impressive, leave the listener uncomfortably misdirected. In our previous example using a Dm-C-Bb-C chord progression, the listener's ear will always want the solo sequence to return to the D note. Not only that, the return (or resolution) should be on the beat. There is also resolution to the underlying chord. So if you resolve to the C when the C major chord is playing, there is resolution. However when the chord then changes to he Bb, the resolution is lost. Playing in a minor pentatonic scale over a I-IV-V progression yields many opportunities for resolution. This is because of the notes in the scale, (root, m3, p4, p5, m7) three of them resolve to the underlying chords, and the others resolve with a small bend. This is one of the reasons the pentatonic scale is so easy to use. Now that we have established that rule... break it. Play a little solo melody and leave it unresolved. Go ahead, rules are meant to be broken. Resolve to the "C" while the tune is still on the Dm, but hold it until the band catches up. Let's get really wild and play notes that are not in the scale! Let's add passing tones to our scales like this: Play real fast in Dm Pick the asterisked notes and pull-off the rest.
   *     *     *     *     *     *
Notice the passing tone inserted between the "D" and the final "C" note? This lick resolves to the C, however, if you hold the C for a moment and then hammer-on or slide to the D at the seventh fret, we have a nice resolution to the tonic. Remember that your main goals in soloing are:
1Entertain the listener
2Add to the song
3Take the song someplace that the lyrics can't
4Reinforce the melody or chord structure
Listen to some of your favorite solos and pick out the resolutions. They will be very obvious as you listen to each tune. Listen also to those spots where resolution is delayed, or not there. If you have a recording of Yngwie's first album with Alcatrazz, check out the way he incorporates speed with resolution. For kicks also listen to "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi and pick out the resolutions in the melody, or try "La Gazza ladra" (The Thieving Magpie) by Rossini. For blues scale resolution, check out David Gilmour's solo in Comfortably Numb from The Wall.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    would anyone translate that .i understood nothing .i aint no genious. i need examples including well known songs
    i agree with orange...manson sucks... its funny to read the lessons with low stars...the comments ppl make lol...
    In my opion the title didn't fit quite right. Maybe something like Resolution in solos, or something. However the way you named it did for the most part imply we would get scales, however very nice article on resolution.
    Sorry man, I cant just sit here and not say anything, I spotted it on the other lesson. This is again lifted STRAIGHT out of a guitar tuition book called 'Guitar on Tap' by Joe Bennett, which in fairness is a really great book, helped me a lot in the early days, but again, two real problems, the stuff here is massivly out of context, readers arent getting the real perspective on the lesson, thats why theres a little confusion with it, second...passing this stuff off as your own, its really not a good idea. Sorry man, no flaming or offence intended to you, its just a little annoying. Peace
    I've never had any kind of classes in theory. I gave myself a lesson on theory with a capo and learning all the notes on the fretboard with a chart in a Mel Bay book. Therefore, this article made a whole heap of sense to me.
    Oli B
    While it wasn't about chords, it was still good.
    Who said it was aout chords??? the title says soloing basics. part 2 - Scales.. and the guy that said about lifting it out of a book well he wants a metaphorical slap because not everybody can get hold of this info.. and i dont see u posting this lesson okay???? no offence anmd this was a veryy veryy good lesson.
    While it wasn't about chords, it was still good. It was useful showing someone that they should resolve to truly finish a solo in the listiners ears so 4 stars.
    I'm not that good of a soloist. I will admit I tried to learn the scaled theory but never really understood it. Now since I started playing a small solo from Rammstein I started getting into solo's and now I see it scaled are so easy to understand once you get the hang of it.
    i think anyone needs to be with a teacher to learn this look at kirk hammet that takes classes with satriani
    good article and if some people here dont undersatnd music ur *uckin dumb cux i play guitar like 6-7 months and i undersatnd what tis world is going on
    you guys are dumbasses, this dude is right. this is just too complicated for you to understand...go practice some more!
    To any one who does not understand the tab he is using a fast descending minor scale run with a three note sequence.
    jesus... do ANY of you know any musical theory? Or are you all just a bunch of dimwits with half a brain, no musical background who thought "hey. I should make a band. so what if we suck, you dont need talent anymore so its all cool". This article is really good, says exactly what I was taught 4 years ago in my Jazz Band classes. Stop ridiculing a good article just because you don't understand music. Anyways, I do like your article... Very informative and useful... Should help people that actually -want- to learn to play guitar for the music, not just for the sake of having a band.
    If you like Metal you must check out Metal Lesson for Beginners.....
    A good article and I was also taught a lot of this by my teacher who could shred like none other.
    hey chord resolutions are bullshit. listen "to live is to die" by metallica. the entire solo stays in F#, so is this guy saying that kirk hammett isn't entertaining just because he doesn't shift his soloing key? i just wanted a G diminished scale, but i got something that had nothing to do with anything about making a solo match a ***ing scale.
    Isnt thera an admin/moderator in here who can take of all these bullshit comments. I think your lessons are verry informative but I would really lika an .mp3 or two to go with them. Thanx alot! / Richard
    O my god, are you people guitar players or jerk offs? If you need translations, then what the hell are you here for, pay attention in school and youd be able to make out what anyone is saying
    I idnt really get it but i am not a dumbshit! i want to learn guitar theory too so i shall keep at it.
    great lesson.... all of you that dosent get this try read it agin indstad of giving up so easly...
    Good lesson, very informative. Some of you who posted negatively must not have understood very well or just not care about theory
    Thought it was really helpful and described clearly. Maybe shouldn't have gone "now that we've established the rules break it" as i was just getting the hang of it.